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natural phenomena by everywhere introducing his own conscious life.
"To explain " means simply to trace the unknown back to the known,
and whence (so argues this theory) should man originally derive the
elements for the explanation of natural phenomena, if not from
himself? This much is certain, that the mythological conception
of nature is distinguished from the scientific by its tendency to
personify. But may not this tendency itself require explanation,
and may it not be asked whether there are not necessary inter-
mediate links through which the idea of personal powers is trans-
ferred to natural phenomena ? The theory referred to seems to
impute to primitive man a creative imagination which is possible
only at a higher stage of development. And were the theory
correct, it would necessarily be expected that language would
denote material things by terms originally applied to mental
things, whereas in reality it denotes mental things by terms
originally material.

Modern investigations relating to the mental life of savage
races have led, therefore, to a modification, if not to a complete
rejection, of the theory of an originally personifying faculty. Tylor,
Lubbock, and Spencer have proved that dream-images play an
extraordinarily large part in moulding the primitive conception of
the universe. In dreams a man sees himself and others, and having
at first no reason for assuming a difference between dream-images
and percepts, he believes the former to be as real as the percepts of
waking life. Just as a child delivers greetings from people he has
dreamt of, so the primitive man takes ever}'thing occurring in
dreams for actual experience. He has therefore been in distant
places, although it is evident his body has not moved from the
spot ; and others have visited him, although it is certain that they
were far away or dead. Besides dream-images, reflections of him-
self and others confirm the notion of a form of existence other
than that given with the presence of the body in a definite place.
A savage who had been made to look into a mirror exclaimed,
" I gaze into the world of spirits !" One of Darwin's children, at
nine months old, turned to the looking-glass on hearing his name
called. Such experiences lead to the notion of a double existence :
as mind, man is a free, ethereal being ; as body, he is tied down to
definite and limited places in space. Now, this duality fonns a
firm point of support for the imagination. Striking phenomena—-
change, the emergence of things and their vanishing away, life an4


death — find now their natural explanation, a like duality being
assumed to exist in everything. The spirits of the dead especially
serve as an important element of explanation ; with them dreams
and imagination are chiefly occupied, and there is consequently a
disposition to find their intervention everywhere. All nature is
peopled from the world of dreams.

Ikit it would certainly be going too far to suppose that we can
dispense altogether with the assumption of a personifying tendency.
It is one thing to find the mere appeal to such a tendency not
enough ; quite another to dispense with it entirely. A man must at
any rate recognize his own person in dreams, and ascribe to the
images of other men shown in dreams a life of feeling and will
corresponding to his own. If we wholly reject the personifying
tendency, it is impossible to explain how man can assume at all the
existence of other personal beings besides himself. The dream-
theory marks an advance so far, that it makes the fact that man
attributes his own mental life to his "double "easily intelligible ; in
this case he immediately recognizes himself in other relations.
But what takes place here differs only in degree from what always
takes place when he recognizes a mental life in other beings, who
execute movements such as he would himself make in certain
moods. His instinct of self-preservation leads him, at an early
stage, to attach a meaning to the movements of other beings — to
interpret certain looks and attitudes as signs of certain feelings.
Such interpretation takes place instinctively and involuntarily, and
— to judge from the ease with which a little child learns to dis-
tinguish friendly from threatening countenances— is perhaps based
upon an innate faculty. Logically formulated, it would be called an
inference by analogy. To what lengths the analogy is carried
depends on the standpoint. At the mythological standpoint, man is
very ready to ascribe to things outside of himself a mental life like
his own. The boundary between the self and the not-self also,
is indefinite as with children. Only advancing experience can draw
more precise lines of demarkation.

The mind is at this stage conceived as an ethereal being, in
contrast to the body as a coarser and heavier being. This
duality has to pass through many phases before it is developed
into the contrast between an immaterial and a material being.
The physical characteristics of the conception of mind are only
slowly and by degrees worn off. In the mental development of
the Greeks such a refining process occurred in the period between


Homer and Plato. For Homer, the mind is only a fainter copy,
a reflection of the body ; a man's real self, according to his
childlike mode of conception, is destroyed with the body, and
he thus makes the souls of his heroes descend into the under-
world while they themselves arc a prey for dogs and birds !
{Iliail, I. 3, 4.) Plato, on the contrary, makes Socrates, on Crito
asking " how he would be buried," address his friends as follows :
" I cannot persuade this Crito that I am the Socrates who is
conversing with you and presiding over the argument. He
thinks that I am the body which he will soon see a corpse,
and he asks how he shall bury me." {Pha-do, tr. by F. J. Church,
p. 186.) Here is expressed a purely spiritual conception of the
mind, its essence being represented as activity of thought.
This pure conception — which the ancient philosophers did not
work out — was again obscured in the Middle Ages, when faith
bore a distinctly materialistic impress ; e.g. it represented souls
as burning in purgatory. In modern times, Descartes, who
found the essence of the mind in consciousness, stands in the
same relation to the conception of the Middle Ages as that in
which Plato stood to Homer. Were we to explain, by the way of
psychological analysis, this transition from the standpoint of Homer
to that of Plato, we should come back to a process similar to that
described above as taking place within the individual consciousness
(p. 5 seq.).

6. That we directly know mental life only in ourselves, and discover
it outside of us by way of analogy, we may finally convince our-
selves by taking a physiological standpoint. While organic processes
and movements were explained through a special vital force or
through the unconscious activity of the mind, mental life could of
course be extended to all organic phenomena. But even then
there remained the question of the relation between the " soul" in
the wider sense, as vital force, and the soul in the narrower sense,
as consciousness. Descartes was the first to lay down with pre-
cision the purely psychological criterion of mental life, in opposition
to the older Aristotelian conception, which applied the word " soul"
even to the principle of nutrition. He preferred to avoid the word
"soul" (afii'ma) on account of its ambiguity, and substituted the
word " consciousness " {mens) when he wished to denote the subject
of psychology. The realm of souls was thus greatly narrowed.
Descartes himself found only in man occasion for the assumption
of a consciousness ; animals he regarded as mere machines. This


was a paradox, but indicates a reform in the conception of nature.
Instead of appealing to forces that work mysteriously, we can now,
since " soul " has been severed from the material v/orld, introduce
a purely mechanical explanation of nature.

Modern physiology interprets the phenomena of organic life by
means of physical and chemical laws. It is in this way that all the
explanations which it has as yet succeeded in giving, have been
reached. Physiology has for this reason been called organic
physics.* While acknowledging the mysterious in the origin and
development of life, it knows no way in which the problem can be
solved except the reduction of organic phenomena to physical and
chemical processes. An appeal to the "vital force," or to the
intervention of the mind, it does not recognize as a scientific
explanation of an organic phenomenon ; it sees in that only
a confession of our ignorance regarding the nature of the

Physiology does not of course deny the existence of mental life,
in the sense of a conscious life. It inquires in each individual
case whether the material movements which we see before us
justify us in assuming that consciousness is associated- with them.
The answer depends partly on whether the movements are so
purposive that we must suppose them carried out with delibera-
tion, partly on whether they are such as we ourselves make
on experiencing pleasure or pain. In both respects we often
interpret too freely. Purposive movements may be executed quite
unconsciously by means either of an innate mechanism or of a
mechanism produced by practice. They are then mere " reflex
movements "—that is to say, movements springing from the fact that
an excitation brought to a central organ by an afferent nerve is
immediately sent back by the central organ (" reflected") through an
efferent nerve. Among such involuntary and unconscious move-
ments must be placed those which a frog, after it has been
deprived of its head, executes in order to get rid of a corrosive
acid or of some restraint, although from the purposive character of
these movements some have assumed the existence of a " spinal
mind" in the headless animal. Even in so-called "instinctive
actions " it is often difficult to determine the extent to which there
is conscious deliberation. As regards the feeling of pleasure or
pain, physiology, holding that a parallel may be shown between

1 Panum, htdlcdning til Physiologien (" Introduction lo Physiology "), Copenhagen,
1883, p. 7.


the degree of the development of consciousness and that of the
nervous system, maintains with regard to animals of lower
organization {Radiata, Molltisca, Articulatd) " that by no kind of
injury do they feel such pain or torture as man can feel, and such
as deserves the pity of man " ; that the pain which fish and reptiles
are capable of feeling is extremely small, al)out as much " as that
produced in men by the sting of a flea or a gnat"; further, that
even the pain of birds may not be compared to that of man under
similar injuries.' To conclude terrible sufferings from the con-
vulsions and the death-rattle of the dying is often a mistake.
When death comes slowly, the pain is over before the death-
struggle begins, and the convulsions are often only reflex move-
ments, which take place after the circulation of the blood is
checked and the activity of the brain has ceased.- On the other
hand, to an ignorant bystander death by poisoning from curare
appears quite painless, for there no convulsion or death-rattle
takes place. Rut this poison attacks first only the organs con-
necting the motor nerves and the muscles, and thus prevents any
indication of feeling during the interval that elapses before the
poison has arrested all the functions of life. Thus there may be
the most frightful death-anguish without external token of it.
Claude liernard^ makes use of this very example to emphasize the
fact that we know with complete certainty the capacity for feeling
(sensibility) only from our own consciousness, and that we are
easily led astray when we try to determine whether such a capacity
exists in other beings or not.

If we wish, then, to gain a knowledge of conscious life, we must
study it, above all, where it is directly accessible to us — namely, in
our own consciousness. This immediate experience is also the only
source whence the physiologist can determine the significance for
mental life of the various organs of the brain. It is the secure
starting-point for all our knowledge of the mental world.

7. I5ut now how much is contained in this starting-point ? The
subject-matter of psychology is not something that can be pre-
sented to the imagination or to sensuous perception. It is not
something that we can directly find outside ourselves, but some-
thing which we transfer, consciously or unconsciously, whenever
occasion offers, from ourselves to others. IMore than that which

1 Panum, Indledningi^^ Introduction "), p. 56.

2 E. Homemann, Oni Menneskets PiUtand kort ffr Dd'den (" On the Condition of just before De.Ttli "), Copenh.igen, 1874, p. i3.

3 Claude Bernard, " Le Curare," La Scitnce ex/MmentaU, Paris, 1878.


inner observation of our own consciousness teaches us we are not
therefore justified in using as a basis. Here, however, there is
something the reaUty of w-hich cannot be disputed. No one can
deny that there arc sensations and ideas, feeHngs and decisions ;
and in saying that psychology is the science of mind, we
mean by mind, to begin with, nothing more than the sum of all
these inner experiences. In this sense the existence of the mind
is not open to doubt, but, on the contrary, is a necessary assump-
tion. There is, however, another sense in which the question as to
the position of science with regard to the existence of the mind
may be raised. Not content with the simple starting-point of
psychological experience, spiritualism has thought it necessary to
base psychology on the idea of the mind as an independent, self-
existent, individual being (a substance). This is an idea which
points back historically to the mythological duality, as this was
refined and moulded by considerations partly ethical, partly
theoretical. On the one side, an influence was exerted by the sense
of the high value of mental life — the feeling that everything that
interests us dwells in this inner world of thoughts and feelings,
and that the outer world of matter has value for us only as an object
of thought and feeling. This inner world was therefore exalted far
above the material world, and sharply distinguished from it. On
the other side, the spiritualistic conception is grounded in an
analysis of the characteristics of mental states. It is peculiar to
consciousness, to bring together things dispersed in time and
space. Differences of time are annulled in memory, differences
of space in comparative and combining thought. There is here a
thoroughgoing unity, an inner connection, without a parallel. Is
not this sufficient justification for ascribing to the mind an existence
in and for itself, and for conceiving it as an immaterial substance ?
Ikit however great the justification may be, we cannot at any rate
acknowledge it at the beginning of psychology. Here it is above
all things important to build upon nothing but immediate percep-
tion. And this supposition does not even help us to abetter under-
standing of mental experiences. From the character of certain
experiences the existence of a mental substance is deduced, but
about this substance only so much is known as is contained in
these experiences ; so far as more knowledge is sought, the
validity of the deduction ceases. Experience does, indeed, teach
that the special characteristic of consciousness, in contrast with
material phenomena, is the inner unity of the variety of all


conscious-content, a unity which does not exist in the world of
space ; but it does not teach that this unity is absolute, uncondi-
tioned and independent. Taking substance in its strict sense, as
that which has self-existence, and neither results from nor depends
upon anything else, we have no experiential right to apply the
term to mind. This is clearly recognized by Hermann Lotze, in
modern times the most able advocate of spiritualistic physiology.
In attributing substantiality to the mind, he means only to describe
the mind as an independent element in the world, as a centre of action
and endurance, without asserting anything as to its absolute nature.
Hence also he declares that, from the existence of the mind as
substance in this sense, no further conclusions of a semi-religious,
semi-philosophical nature — such as those held by the earlier
spiritualists— can be drawn ; it opens no way to a knowledge of
the fate of the mind, of its prospects in the future, or of its origin.
He even agrees with Spinoza in thinking that, if the notion of sub-
stance is to be taken in its strictest sense, there can be only one
substance ; for only an infinite being, which has nothing beyond
to conilition it, can be " self-subsisting." A finite being is always
limited by something else and dependent ; and unless the extent of
this dependence can be determined a priori, the definition of the
mind as " substance " is not only misleading, but also useless and

What Lotze has especially in view in describing the mind as
substance in the sense of an independent centre and point of de-
parture, is its relation to materiality. According to his view, the
chief characteristics of the mental nature should clearly show that
this, in and for itself, is something different from materiality, and that
a relation of interaction between mind and body must be assumed,
however the relation may be conceived in detail. Here again, how-
ever, more is assumed than experience at first justifies. From
immediate experience of our inner states absolutely nothing can be
gathered as to their relation to other sides of being. Psychological
experience gives only the internal mental phenomena themselves —
not the manner in which they are connected with other phenomena.
This is a special question, which psychology cannot in a one-sided
way and directly determine. Other scries of experiences besides
the psychological must be brought to the solution of this problem ;
and it is of great importance that, as regards each individual series,
no unjustified ideas shall be introduced— ideas which might pre-
judice tho decision in one direction or another. We cannot


determine at the beginning whether two different principles or
substances are at the root of the mental and of the material. We
see before us two provinces of experience, each with its special
characteristics, and study these in order afterwards — but always
under the guidance of experience — to try to determine their mutual

This is also to the interest, as rightly understood, of metaphysical
speculation itself. The human spirit will never let itself be debarred
from brooding over the ultimate principles of that universal system
of which it is a member. It will always seek to build its view of
the universe on certain highest definitive ideas. But what it must
learn, and should have already learnt, is this — that speculation may
not mix itself up with the every-day affairs of experiential knowledge,
may not anticipate the solution of purely experiential problems.
It is not meant that speculation should wait until experience is
exhausted ; for that it never will be. But the really wise meta-
physician is he who lets his ideas move in the direction already
indicated by the leading features of experiential knowledge. He
thus expresses only the thoughts which, more or less unconsciously,
lie at the basis of experientially determined research, and carries
them to their legitimate conclusions. He seeks an ultimate,
definitive hypothesis, but the foundation is common to him and to
the empiricist. Metaphysics therefore presupposes psychology as
well as the other experiential sciences, and Lotze's conception of
psychology as applied metaphysics will prove more and more

Psychology as here conceived is so far a " psychology with-
out mind " that it makes no assertion about the absolute nature of
mental life, or even about the question whether such an absolute
nature exists. Just as little as physics 'pronounces upon transcen-
dental questions (questions beyond the limits of experiential
knowledge) in the province of outer nature, does psychology pro-
nounce upon them in the province of inner nature. This does not
mean that psychology may not make an essential contribution to
the general conception of the universe. Nothing, on the contrary,
can be of greater importance for such a conception than a know-
ledge of mental phenomena, of their mutual relations, and of the
laws of their development. And precisely a conception of these
phenomena, framed in accordance with experience, will be able to
clear the points of view and to correct many prejudices.

In maintaining the empirical character of psychology as contrasted


with metaphysical speculation, we exclude from psychology material-
ism as well as spiritualism. We have referred especially to the
spiritualistic psychology, because it is of greatest interest, and has
the most acute supporters, liut it is obvious that materialism makes
the same encroachments as spiritualism. Materialism also infers
the existence of a substance, which is supposed to lie hidden behind
the phenomena of consciousness, but finds this substance in matter,
not in a spiritual principle. Spiritualism takes its stand on the
difterence between mental life and material phenomena, and thence
infers a special mental substance, which" in itself has nothing to
do with matter. Materialism, on the other hand, argues from the
connection of mental life with material, that the mind must be a
material being. " It is enough for us to know," says Holbach
{Systeme de la Nature, \. p. 118), "that the mind is moved and
modified by material causes acting upon it. We are justified in
concluding from this that it must be material." Broussais defined
the mind as " un cerveau agissant, et rien de plus " (a brain in action,
and nothing more). I5oth in what it maintains and in what it
denies, materialism, equally with spiritualism, goes beyond the
standpoint of experiential psychology. That in the course of the
investigations proper to psychology a point may be reached
whence judgment can be pronounced on these hypotheses, is
quite another matter.

Psychology in and for itself, then, is not a part of philosophy, if
by philosophy is meant metaphysics, a search after a general view
of the universe ; like the experiential science of external nature,
it is a preparation for philosophy, a part of the foundation on which
philosophy, in the sense of metaphysical speculation, should build,
one of the witnesses it should call in. Nor is psychology philosophy,
if by philosophy we mean a critical science of the nature and limits
of knowledge : while psychology has purely the character of natural
history, observes mental phenomena in their development and in
their mutual relations, the theory of knowledge (sometimes called
logic) tries by critical analysis to bring out the general principles of
cognition. The theory of knowledge also, therefore, presupposes

On the other hand, philosophical thought also becomes one of
the objects of psychology. As a form of mental activity, philo-
sophy lies within the sphere of psychological observation. And in
many ways philosophical research has played into the hands of
psychological research ; consciously or unconsciously, philosophical


speculation always works with psychological elements, and in
philosophical systems are deposited many profound psychological
observations and ideas.

It is the merit of the English school to have shown that psycho-
logy is independent of metaphysical speculation. Descartes had,
it is true, taken the decisive step of clearing the notion of mind
from mythological ambiguities, by laying stress on consciousness as
the mark of mental phenomena. He did not, however, hold fast
to the experiential standpoint, but in reality laid the foundation of
metaphysical spiritualistic psychology by representing the mind as
"thinking substance" (suhstaittia cogifaiis), instead of keeping to
the phenomena of consciousness as the secure empirical basis.
Kant's epoch-making philosophical reform became important for
psychology through his critique of metaphysical ("rational")

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