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tested. This presupposes a critical moment, a special awakening of
the attention and of the interest. And such a critical moment,
again, presupposes that so abundant a material is involuntarily
found and provisionally arranged, that consciousness acquires a
freer attitude towards its elements. The simple, primitive con-
sciousness feels no need to form concepts, but goes passively from
disappointment to disappointment (V. A. 4). Thought proper pre-

1 Tylor, Anthyo/>ology, London, iSSi, p. 119. Oehlwein, Die Naturliche Zeiihen-
sprache der Taulsiummen unci Hire FsyLhische Bedeutun^ ("The Natural Language
of Signs of the Deaf and Dumb, and its Psychical Significance"), Weimar, 1S67,
(quoted in Preyer, Die Seete Jet KinJes, p. 406). (Kng. trans, ii. p. 22, seq.)


supposes a power of abstracting from the immediate present, and
of taking into account more distant elements and relations. There
must thus be exercised on the one hand a self-control to keep down
the elements which spring up involuntarily, when they are not to
the point, and on the other hand a positive striving to call up and
collect everything which bears on the matter in hand.

Thought is to this extent an affair of the will. But the will
cannot create something out of nothing ; it can only form and
change what is involuntarily given. Logical thought has essentially
a critical character ; it examines, weighs and estimates the relation
of similarity, which is always the final condition of the association
of ideas, but a condition about which the involuntary activity of
consciousness is not so particular. Thought does not, however,
merely examine the given associations of ideas ; it always en-
deavours to put in their place new associations, more in harmony
with experience. It holds fast by its standard, and continues to
reject until a combination of ideas arrives which satisfies it. This
selection rests, like all selection, upon an association by similarity
or a comparison : that is selected, which most closely and com-
pletely answers to the requisitions of the standard.

Thought proper has at its command no means and no forms,
which have not been already employed in the involuntary flow of
ideas. The difference is one of degree only, depends on the close-
ness with which the relation of similarity is apprehended. The
circumstance that the association of ideas becomes the object of
express interest and conscious choice, cannot alter the laws of
association. Thought proper can no more be emancipated from
these laws, than any artificial machine can arrest the laws of
external nature. But we can employ psychological laws in the
service of our aims, just as the physical laws.

That thought proper is an affair of the will, must not be taken
to mean that the act of thought is always executed with full
consciousness. Thought, if free and energetic, takes its course
with such haste that we forget ourselves. When we really reflect,
" we are sunk into thought," are overpowered by it. But the will
is not quite the same thing as self-reflection and self-constraint.
We may very well wholly forget ourselves, and yet guard against
casual and unwarranted combinations of ideas, may avoid falling
into inconsequence and error. Practice takes effect in thought as
in every other activity. Before practice is acquired, opposition
may often have to be overcome, and in the effort necessary, the


part played by the will is clearly apparent : the principle to be
applied, the standard to be observed, must be kept hold of as
the guiding thought (centre of association). When the practised
thinker gives himself up to the course of his thoughts, there is not
less concentration of attention, but the agency of the will is more
hidden, because its energy is now at one with the energy of the
flow of ideas. Only if difficulties and opposition appear, will it
again become distinct.

It is the business of logic, not of psychology, to set up a standard
for combination of ideas, and to indicate the rules which such a
standard affords for the association of ideas in harmony with
experience. Logic is an artificial, psychology a natural science.
But art grows out of nature and is a continuation of it. And it
is also of interest psychologically to see that the standard for valid
combinations of ideas is no other than an ideal expression of that
which enters more or less distinctly into all involuntar)^ association
of ideas. Logic judges all associations of ideas according to the
degree in which they satisfy the principle of identity, i.e., in which
they fulfil the condition, that each idea, wherever and whenever it
occurs, must have the same content {A = A). This principle
corresponds to that recognition which is the presupposition of all
association (V. B. 8 c). In the logic of concept, judgment and
inference, is manifested the importance of this principle.^

The first condition of thought proper is that the ideas (simple,
individual, or general) dealt with, shall be severally held fast
and made precise. In the involuntary flow of ideas, the ideas
have a vague character, and pass easily one into the other. By
definite limitation (definition, determination of the concept), the
content of the several ideas is established, and the ideas are thus
converted into concepts.

In judgment two or more concepts are combined, the one being
shown to be a closer determination of the other, to present a part,
a side, or an effect of what is contained in the other. At the root
of the judgment is the percept or the idea of a connected whole
which the judgment analyses. I make the judgment " the man is
good," when I sec or conceive that the man acts in a certain way ;
and in my judgment I bring to the fore that ilcfinitc side from
which the man appears to me on this occasion. If I pass from the
subject of the judgment to the predicate, and transfer my attention
from the idea of the man to the idea of goodness, I still do not let

1 Cf. my Trtatiit on Formal Logic, Copenhagen, 1S84.


go the subject, the idea of the man ; for supposing that I had let it
go, by the time I reached the predicate (of goodness) the combina-
tion of the two concepts would not have taken place. The judg-
ment is a closer determination or analysis of the subject-concept,
and the predicate-concept is thought only in its connection
with the subject-concept. The mental operation, undertaken in
judgment, is thus a dividing into parts, a special calling out
of those elements which to the immediate apprehension were
given in unresolved unity. — In the development of language there
is a stage at which concept and judgment are not expressed in
different forms. Root-words expressed originally events, actions
or circumstances, they were " propositions in embryo." The word
then signified indifferently, the subject of the action, the action
itself and the object of the action.^ The need for a distinct term
for each several part of the main idea could arise only after the
attention had been directed to them separately. The earliest
words of children are similarly " propositions in embryo." Bow-
wow denotes " the dog," " there is a dog ! " as well as " the dog
barks." Preyer describes as follows, how his child (at the age
of twenty-three months) pronounced one of his first judgments : —
" The child drank some milk which was too hot for him, quickly
put the cup down, and said loudly and distinctly, gazing at me
earnestly with eyes wide open, ' Hot ! ' This one word was meant to
signify ' the drink was too hot.' — The cry ' tool ' may mean
either : (i) Where is my stool ; (2) My stool is broken ; (3) I want
to be lifted on to the stool ; (4) Here is a stool." ^ — When I am
about to make a proposition, at first only the main thought is
clearly present ; the formulation of the proposition takes place by
differentiation of the subject- and predicate-concepts from the
unity of the main thought. A speaker absorbed in his subject may
never perhaps undertake the full analysis of his main thought ; the
half involuntary mechanism of speech provides, however, for its pre-
sentation in detail, without any express act of consciousness being
required.'' The attention and the energy of the speaker would
be far too much dissipated if he had to divide them between
the main thought and its presentation in particular judgments.
These facts seem to confirm the view of the judgment as an

1 L. Geiger, Ursprnng- und Entwickelung der menscklkken Sprache und Vemunfl,
1, p. 205.
- Preyer, Die Seele des Kindes, p. 279, 310. [Eng. trans, u. pp. 144, 154.]
3 Cf. Kussinaul, Die Storungen der Sprache, p. 196.


The determination of concepts and the formulation of judgments
are for logic only preliminaries to the inference. The inference is
the clearest form of thought proper. By its means a judgment is
proved ; i.e. deduced from one or more other judgments. Inference
comes in, when doubt has been cast on the validity of a judgment,
and it cannot be established by immediate reference to the per-
cept. The assertion A is not = C, must be withdrawn \i A = B
and B = C. The demonstrative force of the inference is based
upon the principle of identity ; for if e.i^. B = B does not hold
good, an inference is impossible. Unless the principle of identity
is presupposed, thought can make no progress. This principle
is therefore the highest law of thought, the postulate on which
all science depends. It is, however, no arbitrary or accidental
postulate ; the relation of similarity underlying all association of
ideas is expressed by the principle of identity in an ideal and
absolute form, to which our actual associations attain at best
only appro.ximately. Psychologically the strict principle of identity
can be realized only to a certain extent ; in reality there is,
as frequently noted, no absolute repetition. The principle of
identity is a logical abstraction. But still there is here a point at
which logic and psychology so far approach one another, that the
growth of logical thought becomes psychologically intelligible.

If, on the contrary, the relation of similarity is not admitted
as the presupposition of all association, the origin of logic is
incomprehensible, and the principle of identity is given as an
absolutely arbitrary principle. For whence should thought derive
its standard, its principle, if this is not the idealized expression for
the true nature of thought, and to be found consequently in im-
perfect and vague forms at all stages of intellectual life ?

John Stuart Mill, in his celebrated Logic, went a step farther,
and tried to carry out a theory of inference not based upon the
principle of identity. According to him the original inference
is from particular to particular ; when a child has burnt itself,
it cries at the sight of the fire, because it expects the pain
to follow ; it thus argues from one particular phenomenon (the
lire) to a ditTerent one (the pain). This inference can be based only
on habit or instinct. — Mill overlooks, however, that there is a
definite condition, without which the child's inference would not
be possible. If the fire is not, as before, alight, then the child is
mistaken. But if it is as before, he will get burned if he touches
it. The principle of identity is thus involved, if the inference is



correct. The primitive consciousness gives itself, however, on
account of its sanguine tendency, no time for confirming or weigh-
ing resemblances {cf. V. B, 4). Only after repeated disappoint-
ments does it learn " to be careful," i.e. to try how far the identity
goes. It is through such experiences that the transition from the
involuntary flow of ideas to thought proper is effected. To the
involuntary flow of ideas any resemblance, any contact, suffices
to establish a combination of ideas. Mythologies, dreams, the
fancies of children, the delirium of the mentally deranged, and
the changes in meaning of one and the same word, all seem to
show that no combination of ideas is impossible. Thought proper
reviews and tests the resemblances and tries to build up a structure
of thought, in w^hich by force of the principle of identity each
several member is combined with the others.

12. While a development from the concrete individual, through
the typical individual, to the general, idea, leads us from the
mere association of ideas to thought proper, another process
of development may take place, which does not lead away from
the concrete individual ideas, but rather results in the forma-
tion of new ones. The creative power or itnaginatiofi (in the
narrower sense) ^ grows out of the same root as thought, but in a
different direction.

In order to understand this process of development, it must be
borne in mind that even the concrete individual idea is complex in
nature, a product of association (V. B. 9). Hence the possibility
that the same elements may be linked in other ways, presented in
other combinations. By the exchange of even some of its elements
for others the individual idea may acquire another appearance.
This happens more or less with all our memories. Special features
get wiped out, and their place is taken by others without our noticing
it. In the very cases where we keep secure hold of the essential
features, this kind of transposition and shifting may take place in
the subordinate features without attracting our attention, when we
have no opportunity of comparing the memory-image with the per-
cept. Dreams, whether dreams proper or waking dreams, go still
further and transform the dominant and determining elements of
the individual idea, thus creating ideas of individual persons,

1 Imagination in the wider sense is identical with the power of ideation : this was the
original meaning of the Greek word tjiavTaaCa. If we keep to this, then the whole doctrine
of memory and of ideation is a doctrine of the imagination. — In the narrower sense,
imagination is the power of forming new concrete ideas, and tliis is the sense in which we
now employ the word.


tilings and events, which luivc never been presented in experience.
We may dream of persons, as standing clearly and vividly before
our eyes, whom we have never seen.

We employ this power of free combination ^ daily when we try
to get at the gist of something of which we do not know the full
and complete facts. When we understand an allusion, we enlarge
the given scattered elements into an individual totality. The in-
ventor of a new mechanism combines given elements, the laws of
whose activity he knows, into a totality and a connection which has
no complete jnirallel in experience. The scientific discoverer in
like manner looks round among his elements of experiences, tries
their possible combinations in order to find the one which accords
best with other experiences. During this process there is formed
in his consciousness a succession of individual ideas, which are
rejected one after another, until that one appears which best grasps
and fits in the given elements. What is marvellous in scientific
genius is the mental freedom with which it is able to abstract from
experience, and to picture the different possibilities with all their
consequences, in order to find by this means a new reality, not ac-
cessible to direct experience. Kepler cited this mental freedom
as a significant feature in the genius of Copernicus. -

The freedom in respect of what is given, which scientific imagina-
tion presupposes, appears not only in the new combinations, but
also in the power of discovering agreements, of finding the same
fundamental relations, in the midst of very changed or compli-
cated conditions. Such more deeply penetrating apprehension
of similarity lies at the bottom of the association by contiguity at
work in the combination ; starting from the single recognized or
identified characteristic, a whole new connection (according to the
law of totality) is constructed, as when Newton, according to the
story, obtained from a falling apple the idea of the fundamental law
of the planetary system. Free combination leaves the differences
as the>' are, but brings the manifold elements into a new harmony.
When, however, it works in the service of scientific inquiry, it always
requires, as a corrective, thought proper with its power of weighing
similarity and difference. The formal or abstract sciences (logic and
mathematics) form therefore the basis and the corrective of the real

1 This power is scarcely to be found at the lowest stage of human existence.^ The
im.-igination of savages is reproductive, not constructive. Spencer, Princ. of Social.,
pp. 30 and 47. ...

■- ''^Copernicus vir maximo ingenio et, quod in hoc exercitio magni momenti est, ammo
libero." (Reuschlc, KeJ>Ur und die Astroiwinie, Frankfurt, 1871, p. 119.)

N 2


or concrete sciences (natural science and history). The development
of scientific knowledge has for its end the discovery of a unity and
similarity so deep that all differences may be contained within
it, and on the other hand the arrangement of all differences in such
clear and definite forms that the laws of similarity appear as of

Imagination, while in the service of scientific knowledge, is only
a by-way. which the ideational process takes because the direct road
is impracticable. Sometimes this by-way-cannot be pursued to the
end ; but it may still be admissible if its general direction, the
curve which it makes, indicates an agreement with experience.
Cognition then ends with an hypothesis. There is, however, a
mode of free combination in which such reference to given
experience is not possible, and the thing aimed at is rather an
independent and new creation, similar in kind to the involuntary
productions of dreams. Artistic imagination differs from the
imagination of the scientific student in this, that its final aim is not
agreement with certain definite percepts, but is attained by the
creation of a concrete and individual form, quite apart from the
question whether or no an absolutely similar form exists in reality.
Its creations should bear the character of reality, but need not
accord with any definite reality.

The psychological property of the imagination depends in the
individual cases in part upon the degree of consciousness or spon-
taneity with which it works, in part upon the species of association
of ideas which controls it, and in part upon its relation to the
actual percept.

(a) With regard to the degree of express consciousness with which
the imagination works, three forms may be distinguished. It may
act almost unconsciously and involuntarily, so as to approach the
nature of dream-consciousness. The interweaving of the ele-
ments of the picture in the imagination takes place in great
measure below the threshold of consciousness, so that the image
suddenly emerges in consciousness complete in its broad outlines,
the conscious result of an unconscious process icf. III.). Goethe
relates that " for several years his productive talent never left him
for a moment ; " it must thus have been active without conscious
exertion on his part being demanded. He relates of" Werihers
Leiden " (The Sorrows of Werther) : " Having written this little
work almost unconsciously, like a somnambulist, I marvelled at it
myself when I read it through." In the introductory poem to the


Roskilde Rim, Grundtvig* says : " I have sung of that which I have
never known." — A step nearer to imaginative production with a
conscious end, we have improvisation, where a given motive and
the movement of idea and feeling which it sets up gives the
impulse to new combination. Madame de Stacl, in Corintie,
strikingly compares improvisation with a lively conversation —
one reply calls for another when once the ice is broken. In the
description of Corinnc's improvisation, the influence of the passing
motives and moods comes out ; after Corinne has first praised " the
glory and happiness of Italy," the theme given by the audience,
she is moved by the sad expression in the countenance of one of
the audience to strike a more serious key and "to speak of happiness
with less assurance." — Finally, the activity of artistic imagination
may bear a certain resemblance to the scientific attempt to solve a
problem. In contrast both to instinctive creation, which does not
know what it does, and to the free evolution of images as they
spring out of the passing mood, stands the energetic working to
mould a refractory material to a new form. The poet, as little
as the student, tolerates the self-contradictory and disconnected.
But for the poet the greatest contradiction is the refusal of the
elements to combine into an individual form. Every one receives
impressions, experiences mental states ; but it is only apparent
to a few that these may be made use of as the stones of a new
structure. The majority accept the several experiences as they
chance. The imagination of the poet, on the contrary, continues
to work at them until they are formed into one individual image,
and only then feels clear and at ease.

{b) As a faculty of free combination, the imagination acts by
means of association by contiguity, when it combines elements
which from their nature either are, or may be, connected in time
and space. The strength and liveliness of the imagination depend
on the power of forming images full and complete in every detail
(together with the capacity for presenting each separate element
with impressive force). Men with little imagination do not give
any such individualized character to their images, but leave them
to be presented in a more indefinite form (like the primitive ideas
mentioned in § 9). Or if they do form definite and individualized
ideas, these are quite fixed and unchangeable, whereas the artistic
imagination is able to take the elements out of their original com-
binations and to place them in new combinations as parts of

1 A celebrated Danish poet.


new concrete individual ideas. In association by contiguity, again,
the association of what is given simultaneously plays in artistic
imagination the greatest part, while for the student of science the
succession of events and phenomena has most interest.^

The artistic (and especially the poetic) imagination is dis-
tinguished, however, not less by the energy of the association by
similarity. A slight hint, an insignificant occasion, suffices to call
up the idea of the greatest relations, and the poetic imagination,
which discovers the operation of great laws in even the smallest
relations, has a certain kinship to the scientific imagination. — As
Bain observes, association by similarity plays an important part
only in the imagination of the poet, not in that of the painter or
musician, (^cf. p. 153, on the associations which rest on analogy
and are expressed in the metaphors of speech and in poetic

if) Artistic imagination in its simplest form is imitation of reality,
and in a certain sense it never goes beyond this. To grasp and to
reproduce the real in all its individual fulness is a problem which
can be solved only when the intuitive and imaginative powers have
reached their highest development. This is ihcrcalisiic element in
all art, appearing now as a sober, scrutinizing penetration, now as
a sympathetic absorption in the material given. Without this im-
pulse art would beat the air. Artistic interest makes here an
approach to scientific ; the difference between them is that what to
the one is an end, is to the other a means.

The concrete individual idea, which to the thinker is only an
example or a symbol, often even a distracting symbol, is to the
artist the highest end. Neither thinker nor artist, however, leave
the given material as it originally is. All art is distinguished from
mere tracing or reduplication of reality by this, that it bears the
stamp of the mind whose work it is. This stamp does not come
from the artist's personality being made apparent to the spec-
tator, but from the fact that the artist makes a definite choice,
whether himself conscious of it or not, of what he will give and
how he will give it. Here the influence of the will comes to light,
just as in the psychology of thought. And here, just as little as
there, does this influence of the will imply voluntariness. It is the

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